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Roger Smith Food Writers Conference

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Last weekend (February 13, 2010), many of the most influential American food writers gathered in an art-filled mid-town hotel in Manhattan to discuss a subject that is near and dear to them: how to survive as food writers in a time when publishing (at least print publishing) seems to be in decline, and electronic publishing hasn't found a way to pay the very people who provide its all-important content.

Needless to say, there was quite a bit of hand-wringing -- and rightly so -- but there was also some valuable advice. Most notably, in his summation of a panel on The Future of Food Writing on the Internet, David Leite made an impassioned call to arms for all to join in taking control of our own careers, embrace the future, and just get on with it.

Several of the panels were recorded and are available as video on the web. For those who were unable to attend -- or were there but attended other simultaneous panels -- here are a few of them:


From Websites to Blogs to Facebook

Food writing has progressed from tiny triangular marks impressed in clay tablets, stored in heaps in Mesopotamia, to much tinier magnetic impressions stored somewhere "out there" in cyberspace. Changes in the medium may change the message, but the goal is the same: writers want readers to experience their work -- what's different is that readers get to respond to writers more directly than ever before. Like it or not, food writing is not likely to change back to the one-directional medium it once was.
Gary Allen, chair
Irena Chalmers
Mitchell Davis
Bret Thorn
Laura Weiss


Food for Thought: The Future of Academic Food Writing, Part 1
Food for Thought: The Future of Academic Food Writing, Part 2
Recent years have witnessed an explosion in academic food writing. Food series have rolled off university presses and specialized and cross-disciplinary journals abound, all to sate the growing appetite for classroom materials and scholarly investigation. This panel unites distinguished authors and editors in the academic world to assess where we are and where we might be going in this hot pot of academe.
Cathy Kaufman, chair
Ken Albala
Jennifer Crewe
Bruce Kraig
Marion Nestle
Andrew F. Smith


Powerful Potables
Calling all cork dorks and coffee geeks! How is the increasingly specialized world of beverage writing evolving? How have platforms like Wine 2.0 changed the playing field? If you already write about food, what tools & training do you need to expand into writing about wine and other potables.
Kara Newman, chair
Alice Feiring
Alan Kropf
Nora Maynard

The Future of Food Writing on the Internet
This panel will explore how the continually changing, ever-evolving world of Internet technology is impacting food writers. Will technology make it easier -- or harder -- for writers to make a living? Will there come a time when a writer can completely sidestep traditional media and become successful, financially and critically? How will developing technologies impact -- positively and negatively -- the industry?
David Leite, chair
Elissa Altman
Joe Langhan
Bonnie Tandy Leblang
Renee Schletter


Good-Bye Gourmet, Hello Yelp! -- The Changing Role of the Restaurant Critic, Part 1
Good-Bye Gourmet, Hello Yelp! -- The Changing Role of the Restaurant Critic, Part 2
However much the media landscape has changed, people still want to know where to eat. This panel on restaurant reviewing will touch on the past, current, and future of restaurant reviewing. Emphasis will be placed on changes in the relationship between the reviewer and diners, the reviewer and media outlets, and the reviewer and the restaurant industry. The craft of reviewing restaurants will be explored in the context of other forms of cultural criticism.
Mitchell Davis, chair
Gabriella Gershenson
Irene Sax
Robert Sietsema


TV and Beyond: The Future of Food and Cooking in Broadcast Media
Beginning with home economist-hosted programs in the 1940s, cooking on television has evolved over the last sixty plus years into a phenomenal industry and pastime. What does the future of food media look like and where/how will we view it? Who will be our guides? What will we be taught and how and what will we learn?
Kathleen Collins, chair
Geof Drummond
Joe Langhan
Dana Polan
Krishnendu Ray
Kate Rohmann

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